The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) has given its opinion on the proposed pumped storage facility at the Meaford Range. In a press release issued on June 16, the OCAA suggested that there are better alternatives than those found in TC Energy’s proposal.
“The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA), an organization that led the campaign to phase out Ontario’s five coal-fired power plants and is now working to make Ontario a 100% renewable future , offers a cost-effective alternative to proposed TC Energy Corporation (formerly TransCanada Pipeline) project for a pumped storage plant (PSP) on the shore of Georgian Bay, ”the organization said in the press release. “The OCAA offers an alternative that would benefit the Ontario taxpayer by reducing the cost of TC Energy’s proposal by 98%.
TC Energy says its proposal is a green initiative that would use inexpensive off-peak electricity overnight to pump water from Georgian Bay to a 374-acre storage tank 150 meters above the shore of the Georgian Bay on the military base. The reservoir, which is said to contain 20 million cubic meters of water, would be emptied into Georgian Bay during peak periods, driving hydraulic turbines to generate electricity. TC Energy has obtained approval to undertake a feasibility study, and the temporary access agreement grants TC Energy one year of access in order to complete its studies.
The Department of National Defense is conducting its own study, which will determine whether the proposed facility could coexist with activities at 4e Canadian Division Training Center. Although a decision was expected from DND at the end of last year, the results of their study have not yet been announced.
The OCAA, however, suggests a different approach.
“TC Energy is seeking a contract from the Government of Ontario to finance the construction of its Georgian Bay PSP. The proposed PSP will pump 20 million cubic meters of water from Georgian Bay overnight to a 375-acre man-made reservoir in the Niagara Escarpment, and discharge it into the bay during the day to generate electricity. The plant will use 30% more energy than it generates when pumping water to the upper reservoir, generating just 1,000 megawatts of electricity while consuming 1,250 megawatts, ”the plant suggested. OCAA.
OCAA proposed to extend transmission lines to use Quebec hydropower during Ontario peak demand in place.
“Hydro One could modernize its transmission system to allow us to import an additional 2,000 megawatts of peak hydropower into Quebec at a cost of only about $ 80 million. Quebec could provide us with twice as much peak power as the TC Energy project at a capital cost 98.14% lower, ”said Jack Gibbons, President of the OCAA. “According to TC Energy, PSP is the most proven and economical way to provide us with 1,000 megawatts of peak power to help phase out Ontario’s gas-fired power plants. It’s just not true, ”added Gibbons.
The proposal has been a major concern for many residents of the Meaford area.
Local rights advocacy group Save Georgian Bay formed shortly after the proposed project went public in August 2019. The group has collected more than 3,395 signatures on a petition opposing the proposed installation of pumped hydroelectric storage on the Meaford Reservoir Line, and copies of the petition have been handed out. Bruce-Gray-Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff and MPP Bill Walker. The paper petition initiative was led by Joseph Leung, who collected signatures with a team of volunteers in Meaford and surrounding areas. The petition is 239 pages long and has 3,395 signatures from Meaford, Thornbury, Collingwood, Owen Sound, Wasaga Beach and Barrie.
Members of Save Georgian Bay note that between the proposed reservoir and the bay are a number of residential homes, and they also suggest that the system would be a waste.
“Every time the tank is filled, it draws water from the bay as well as anything that lives in that water. The 30% inefficiency of the PSP is also a huge waste of electricity that could otherwise meet the energy needs of a city the size of Barrie or 16 Meafords, ”said recently Bruce Rodgers, environmental consultant and member of Save Georgian Bay.
John Mikkelsen, director of energy business development at TC Energy, told the board in September last year that the company had listened to the concerns of area residents, and he said changes had been made to the design of the project in response to these concerns, adding an additional $ 1 billion over the original estimate of $ 3.3 for the construction of the facility.
“Since we announced our intention to study the feasibility of developing a pumped storage project at Meaford Tank Range, there has been a lot of discussion in this community. From our point of view, this discussion is a constructive and essential component of the development of the project, ”Mikkelsen told the Board on September 28, 2020.“ It raised awareness of the project and also raised important concerns that need to be addressed. processed. I assure you that we are listening to you and that we take these concerns very seriously. “
Mikkelsen pointed to a number of design changes announced last summer as proof that TC Energy is listening to concerns expressed by residents, and two key changes have been incorporated into the new designs. TC Energy said the plant has been moved away from shore and will be buried in a cave. The intake and outlet have been moved away from shore into deep water, which TC Energy says will avoid sensitive fish habitat near shore. In addition, the proponent has undertaken to use submarine transmission lines rather than overland transmission lines.
“We are grateful to the citizens of Meaford for their active participation, ”Mikkelsen told Council.
Mikkelsen said the design changes made so far have lowered the projected cost of the project from $ 3.3 billion to $ 4.3 billion.
The members of Save Georgian Bay see it differently and suggest that there are other technologies that could be explored.
“Alternative technologies are available that are 90% efficient and would not have a negative environmental impact on Georgian Bay. Another design option for a PSP is a closed loop plant, where an artificial lower reservoir is used instead of Georgian Bay or open water, ”the organization said.
The project is touted as a “green initiative”, with TC Energy claiming that the facility will reduce CO2 emissions by 490,000 tonnes per year.
“The assertion is misleading. If TC Energy were to build a natural gas plant, it would emit 500,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. But if they build a PSP instead, it won’t emit as much CO2. Therefore, by building a PSP, TC Energy is claiming credit for reducing CO2 emissions simply because they decided not to build a natural gas plant, ”Rodgers added.
You can find more information on the OCAA proposal on www.cleanairalliance.org.